Yes, it is mid-November. And that is exactly why you need to think about your goals now. If you want to have any chance of accomplishing your goals, you need to start now. The new year and new you starts now. January 1 is only relevant in that it is just another day in which you should be practicing your habits and just another day that gets you closer to your goals.
You know that the vast majority of resolutions are abandoned after just a couple weeks of half hearted effort, right? And they are abandoned after 100% effort, too. Why do you suppose that is?
It’s brain science. Typically, people make a list. First mistake. When you choose several things to accomplish in the new year, you literally break the decision bank of your brain – the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for focus, short term memory, and abstract problem solving. Essentially, where your willpower lives. It’s a busy place. When you create a list of goals for the year, you are doing the equivalent of trying to break the world record deadlift when you’ve never touched a barbell.
Part of the problem is in how people frame their resolution. They say they will ‘lose weight’. Or ‘get healthy’. Or ‘eat better’. Or ‘make the world a better place’. What do those mean? How are they accomplished? Where do you start? Where do you end? Will you pick the right methods? Will you have the time to do these things? And these are just a few of the questions that will plague your mind. For each resolution.
- Lose weight needs to become Replace the daily doughnut (or three) with fruit and a protein source, like eggs.
- Get healthy needs to become Replace 15 minutes of couch time with a 15 minute walk.
- Make the world a better place needs to become Volunteer once a week at the local homeless shelter.
See how the general (abstract) becomes specific, measurable, and attainable?
Now, one more critical point – pick ONE! Start with one goal, one resolution. I suggest picking one that focuses on yourself, because when you take care of yourself, you are more able to take care of others. It may take about 3-4 weeks (maybe sooner!) for that habit to form. When it becomes automatic, when you no longer have to struggle to choose to grab the fruit and eggs, then move on to another resolution.
If you were to choose to change something about your eating habits now, and then your exercise habits in a few weeks, you’d be perfectly positioned to set a goal of learning powerlifting, or getting your first pull up as 2016 rolls around. You will already have established some good habits that will help you travel further along your fitness journey.
If your goal is something else like becoming a master photographer, you have to start with other simple steps. Like learning what aperture, DOF, exposure, and composition are. All those things can be learned for free and only take a few moments. Learn one thing a day. As your knowledge builds, you can practice what you have learned.
Write your goal down. Then learn what you need to do for an initial habit change. Then build on that habit. Success is a collection of tiny habits built on one another.
Next time, we will learn about discipline.